Photo: Nothing screams New England quite like a stone fence. Nothing screams “first day of school” quite like anxious smiles. These are the moments that I live for.

 

The first day of school was everything I needed it to be. I got little boys up early, they were excited and ready to go, they ate their breakfast, they did their routine… it was a little bit magical. We got out the house 15 minutes early so I could take a few pictures and send them off to the various waiting relatives in southern places. They were anxious the way that kids are when they are excited, but when we pulled up and they saw their friends and teachers… it was like they never left. They fell right in. We took some pictures and then I was out. 🙂 No drama, no tears, no separation blues. They barely gave me a second glance and you know what? I’m alright with that.

Of course, there were errands to be run, but I did end up at Starbucks for my first Pumpkin-spiced Latte of the season (on ice because it was hot as a what-what yesterday!) and then spent a wonderful amount of time at this desk, chatting with my writing group, working on plot lines for Meadowlark II. I even got to meditate for 10 minutes before I headed out to get them again. Teachers reported no fighting, no whining… even during transitions! Woo hoo!

I didn’t get a lot of time to be social with other moms. There will be time for that as we go along. I said my hellos and gave my smiles, listened politely as folk shared their summer stories. I was reminded almost immediately about one part of this suburban parenting thing that I don’t really like. I’ll demonstrate with quotes:

“Well, we spent a lot of time in Maine because my parents have a house up there. Was able to spend most weekends up there and get a break, you know?”

“Well, we started with [camp A] and then we did summer lessons at [music camp B] and then, of course, there were swim lessons at [the local pool place].”

“I drove the kids down to my parent’s every other week and they swam down there and took lessons, then we did a lot of swimming at the beach, and of course there were lessons [at the local joint] and then my neighbors have a pool so we just went in there every day. The kids are diving off the board and everything!”

I don’t begrudge these women and these families. I know that I used to, but it’s more complex now. I’ve come to a full understanding of it: some of this is about straight-up money and assets, and then other parts of this is about family resources. Folk around here can dip into so many wells and children benefit from it on a level I simply cannot compete with. I immediately think about my boys and I panic: they are so behind! They can’t do that! How am I ever going to get them to that level? I know that they could do that if I could only…

but then I got in my car, took a deep breath and reminded myself about the context of it all. When the resources are unlimited because there are multiple wells to dip from (not just money, but placesmemberships and time, right? Babysitting, exposure, invitations, hanging in the right circles, etc…), kids get more exposure, more opportunities, and they get on this accelerated track toward whatever elite level they are destined for. I always knew this on an academic level, but to see it in action is just… powerful. It really is. It’s powerful and jarring, and I can’t help but feel a bit helpless sometimes. Not because I covet what they have, but because I covet what they are able to do. And because I feel like The Husband and I have done the dance, walked the path to get in… but what we’ve really done is just gotten to the outskirts. We’ll always be outside of it all… always a step behind…

Then I remind myself that the boys has a great summer. A different sort of summer than their friends, but certainly a great one where they grew and learned and were exposed to a lot of things. They played plenty. They swam plenty. They fought plenty. We explored and we traveled, we experimented and we contemplated. We certainly had a better summer than we did last year. We totally came out of it feeling ready to go back and tackle even more. I’m grateful for what I was able to accomplish with them. We’re lucky and blessed. I also remind myself that they will get to do all of that stuff and learn all of those things as their own pace… at the pace that is best for them.

I know that, ultimately, the boys will be fine. It’s a long game. Parenting is a long game. We’re just at the beginning and we’re doing just fine.

Easy to write. Harder to fully accept as truth way down deep where it counts. 🙂

It is a cool, cloudy and wet Friday here in Massachusetts, Dear Reader. It’s going to be a great weekend to run around this house and sweep away the last of the sand and the dirt, clean out my oven and even fold some clothes and put them away. Church starts up again on Sunday and we’re looking forward to going as a family. This is the time for quiet contemplation and snuggling up to the people and values that matter. I wish you some time, on one of these cool upcoming nights, to cozy up to warmth and a good story: one that you tell or one that is artfully told by a loved one. I wish you a good hearty breakfast, savory rather than sweet, that fills up your house with good smells that linger for the rest of the day. I wish you a good, strong cup of coffee, and a little time to read the paper as you sip (yes, a real paper… even if it’s on an electronic device. And don’t read about politics either… read about the world). I wish you a kiss and a giggle, hug that lasts longer than expected, a sigh of satisfaction, and words that lift you up and carry you for the rest of the day. Let them remind you of how loved you are, how loving you are, and how powerful both of those things are: you get what you give, Dear Reader, and I’ll bet that you give a lot. So allow the world to thank you, in big and small ways, because you are worthy of all of it.

Until Friday, Dear Reader, take care.

Advertisements

6 thoughts on “[Quiet Thoughts] Balanced and True

  1. My daughter has been accepted into medical school. Have I told you that? This is huge. Few from her school get to the elite universities never mind to one of their medical schools. She achieved this because she is bright and driven, plus she has me behind her to smash whatever hurdles I can. We know plenty of parents who cruise this route because their (equally bright) kids have the contacts, but my daughter knows how to push and has experience of interacting with all sorts, not just the privileged. That matters too. What I am saying is that your boys, with drive, positive attitude and you behind them can get to wherever. It may sometimes seem tougher than it needs to be but that will be a life lesson too. Just watch that it doesn’t leave you as cynical as some of my experiences along the way seem to have left me 😉 xx

    • I am just so excited for that both of you! Congratulations a hundred times!! That is such wonderful news!

      And I grateful for the wisdom attached to your good news: I know that you are right. I have to help and guide, with a positive attitude and with a productive outlook. They need to traverse the world knowing that they don’t live in a bubble, that there are all sorts of different kind of people. I’ve been thinking a lot about this over the weekend and my mom also gave me some good advice about this too.

      And yeah, it’s hard not to get cynical. It’s also hard to balance the ambition (“I am pretty sure I could do that if I just did such and such”) and the bitterness (“augh. They were BORN into that life. I’ll never have any of that even if I wanted to!”). And then to turn around and try to teach that lesson to two little boys? Lordy… it’s always gotta be hard, doesn’t it?

      I don’t know anything about how your system works, so can you give me a brief look? Has she started already? How long is the program? She already did what we would call “undergraduate” study, right? As in 4 years of university and now she is on her way to extra school?

      And has your first tuition bill come in yet? 🙂

      • Our system does seem quite different to yours. She is eighteen years old so that may give you some idea of where she would be if she were your side of the pond. She starts in early October and the course lasts for six years after which she could enter a hospital as a junior doctor. To get there she studied the sciences and maths for two years plus sat extra medical entry exams alongside relevant work experience placements.

        The cost is terrifying – around £15,000 a year for tuition and accommodation. Then she has to buy food, books, pay for transport and so on. Most of it she will have to borrow as we just don’t have that sort of money (especially with two other children coming after) so huge debts by the end. But it is what she has worked towards, what she has dreamed of.

        Those kids who got in with the help of contacts, whose parents will pay them through and later give them the deposit for a house, maybe that lack of debt is a factor in the generational continuation of ease and privilege.

        Having said that, our corner of Wiltshire is not culturally diverse. Daughter may be studying alongside the elite but she will be working with people of all backgrounds, colours and creeds in the hospitals. Teaching hospitals in this country are all NHS so treat based on need, and London draws all sorts. We may not have as much as those she has been competing with to get this far, but she has a great deal more privilege than many she will encounter from here on in.

Thank you for contributing to the discussion!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s